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IMS road course race: The glass half-empty outlook

Sep 27, 2013, 9:30 AM EDT

Indianapolis 500 Getty Images

On the fence about how to feel regarding an IndyCar road race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway? Feeling overly positive and need a sprinkle of negativity in your coffee? Or vice versa? Here’s some potential upsides and downsides of the first race to be held next May. We touched on the positives, but if you’re hankering for some pessimism, look below. Feel free to add more in the comments.


  • Tradition. To many, this is the last erosion of tradition being wiped from the Speedway. “The Indianapolis 500 is the only thing IndyCar should do at the Speedway!” they say. There are others who argue “tradition” went out the window the second NASCAR raced at the track. Times are changing and IndyCar needs to change and make big moves to stay relevant.
  • Attendance. This is a toughie, because for the Speedway bottom line, any crowd the road course race gets will blow the usual number for a practice or Opening Day in modern terms out of the window – think 7,500 to 10,000 now and likely 50,000 or more for a road course race. But it will pale greatly in comparison to the 250,000-plus on race day for the ‘500. What the Speedway will need to do is isolate the fans for this race into fewer sections to at least give the feel there’s still a decent crowd, and potentially sell banners that can be draped over the aluminum seats. It’s not going to look pretty, but if it can look fuller than the Nationwide races at IMS, it will have done its job.
  • It’s IMS, and not another track we’re clamoring for. I’m not going to argue that this doesn’t suck, at least a little bit. Right now it does give off, in part, a bit of desperation from the series standpoint that it is using its own backyard as a stop-gap while other races in other parts of this country or other countries meet their demise. Yes, it’s not Road America or Circuit of the Americas, or another oft-remembered track from the past (Portland, Cleveland, Phoenix or Michigan, anyone?). But I fail to see how another IndyCar race is a bad thing? And the potential drama of it carrying over into the ‘500 a bad thing?

My (hoping for the best) take: All I want is for the race to have a chance to be successful instead of dismissing it in advance. If it proves a bad proposition, either from an optics or business standpoint, then you dump it. But otherwise, it’s here, and ideally can grow from its inaugural running.

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  1. Jeff - Sep 27, 2013 at 10:12 AM

    I’m in for a road-course race at IMS, but at first I wasn’t. It’s growing on me. That said, the way things are changing – wimpy drivers who don’t drive on ovals, cost-minded owners and fans apparent dislike of ovals – I can foresee a disappearance of the 500 as oval race and replaced by this road-corse race.

    • midtec2005 - Sep 27, 2013 at 10:56 AM

      “I can foresee a disappearance of the 500 as oval race and replaced by this road-corse race.”

      There is no scenario possible where that could happen, ever. Not even Tony George would be that dumb. The only reason there are few ovals on the schedule now is because fans aren’t showing up, that’s not a problem at IMS and THE 500.

  2. jandersonmba - Oct 1, 2013 at 2:07 PM

    It would be nice to watch #indycar or #nascar race from the the track side campgrounds of RVnightly at @circuitamericas #usgp soon! #cotanascar challenge! Camping and RV Parking at CotA.

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